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Environm Ciencia, Tecnologia y Economia

Cut industrial emissions further but more flexible

Posted by benjamin-nicolau en marzo 10, 2009

Cut industrial emissions further but more flexible, say MEPs



Pollutant emissions from thousands of industrial installations throughout the EU must be further reduced, but more flexibly, said the European Parliament. MEPs back a Commission proposal to update and strengthen existing rules, but inserted new provisions for introducing EU-wide emission limits, greater flexibility in granting permits, excluding small plants, and better informing the public. The resolution was adopted with 402 votes in favour, 189 against and 54 abstentions.

The IPPC directive, the directive on integrated prevention and control, which is up for revision in the Environment committee, aims at minimising pollution from various industrial sources throughout the European Union. Operators of industrial installations covered by the Directive are required to obtain an environmental permit from the authorities in the EU countries. The permit can only be issued if certain environmental conditions are met. About 52 000 installations are covered by the IPPC Directive in the EU.


The proposed overhaul aims to reduce the administrative burden on industry and public authorities, by simplifying and clarifying the current rules. This entails recasting and merging seven EU directives, including IPPC, into one. The MEP guiding this proposal through Parliament is Holger Krahmer (ALDE, DE)


Introduction of emission limit values – the European Safety Net


The Parliament agreed in principle to more stringent emission limit values proposed by the Commission for specific categories of combustion plants and for pollutants such as SO2, NOx, dust and CO. However, to improve flexibility, MEPs advocate changing the procedure for setting these limits and eventual further limits.


MEPs say that to reduce widespread recourse to exemptions, which lead to market distortions, some minimum emission limit values, which cannot be exceeded in any way, must be set by the Commission, using the comitology procedure.  According to the rapporteur, these requirements will “form a European safety network whose rules may not be breached by any installation”.


At the same time, to give the authorities that grant permits more flexibility, MEPs say that emission limits laid down for individual installations must be based on best available techniques, but adaptable to take account of local circumstances.


Including medium-sized combustion plants, excluding those used least


The scope of the recast legislation (IPPC directive plus six more specific ones) correspondents more or less to the one of the current directives. It covers different industry sectors from metals, chemicals and paper to processed food, oil refineries and large-scale pig and poultry farms. Covered are as well combustion plants, waste incineration plants, waste co-incineration plants and installations producing titanium dioxide. MEPs broadly agree with a Commission proposal to bring medium-sized combustion plants (between 20 and 50 MW), within the rules but want to exclude installations (below 50 MW) which operate for no more than 500 hours /year.


MEPs also changed the annexes, which set specific permit conditions for types of industrial activity. Amendments seeking to insert more or less stringent values were not adopted except for one amendment including an exception for waste gases, but several amendments that were adopted make changes affecting specific industries to which emission limits apply.


Exception for hospitals


The plenary adopted an amendment calling for a calculation of only the normal running capacity of combustion plants used in hospitals.  Specifically, when calculating the total rated thermal input of installations, for combustion plants used in healthcare facilities only the normal running capacity shall be included for the purposes of this calculation.  With this amendment, MEPs seek to recognise the need for significant standby capacity in hospitals.


On poultry


MEPs reject the Commissions proposal to widen the directives scope concerning intensive rearing of poultry and to make a differentiation between different poultry species. MEPs want only industries with 40 000 places for poultry to be covered by the legislation, as it is the case at the moment.


Reducing the administrative burden and better informing the public


Other amendments inserted by the plenary aim to reduce administrative burdens, relax rules on reporting and inspections, and improve the information to the public.


Inadmissible amendments on CO2 Emission Limit Value


In plenary vote, several amendments were deemed non-admissible under the EP rules of procedure. This decision concerned inter alia amendments, put forward by several MEPs, to introduce a carbon dioxide emission limit value for large electricity-generating combustion installations.


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